|Empire of Minarboria|
|Motto: Pro Virgulto Omnia|
|Anthem: In Old Benacia's Sprawling Hills|
|15.6.3 - 16.0.1|
|Largest city||Alttreisen, Yasutomi, Leichenberg, Steerswick, Riskai, Héchéng, Kurpla|
|Official language(s)||Common Tongue (Overdolor dialect), Laqi, Lywind English, High Saxon, Sangunese|
|- Empress||Lyssansa Rossheim|
|- First State Arborist||Clarence Etzeterra|
|- Legislature||The Council of Necrarchs|
|Establishment||800 Anno Fruticis|
(lich cookies prevalent in barter; foreign trade currency reserve held by Sangun Ginko bank)
|National website||Wiki Archive|
|National animal||Prongjack (jackalope/pronghorn hybrid), Tee-al|
|National food||Lich Cookie|
|National drink||Lich Gravy|
The Empire of Minarboria was the final coagulation of the varied royal posessions accumulated across Micras by the House of Rossheim. It was administered from a core territory in southwest Benacia known as the Imperial Shrublands, populated by migrants who had befome politically disenfranchised in Shireroth in the tumultuous aftermath of the Kildari secession. Most notable among this exodus were the noble houses of Rossheim, Mortis and Yastreb which would go on to dominate the leadership of the empire.
Minarboria's most salient characteristic was the prevalence of the Deep Singers and undead liches in its halls of church and state respectively. Being blessed with infinite lifespans, this 'post-human' élite were able to leverage their formidable erudition into such power over the empire's unmodified classes - known somewhat disparagingly as 'breathers' - that their perception as agents of some divine force persists to this day. However the liches, and to a lesser extent the Deep Singers, were fatally dependent upon the arcane chanelling of telluric energies to provide their animating force and the total carrying capacity of these energies was little understood. A series of territorial expansions and the growth of a posthuman middle class in Minarboria is thought to have drained their animating power faster than it could be recharged, resulting in a catastrophic period of bodily torpor across the entire leadership stratum of the empire and precipitating its rapid collapse.
The mass emigration from Shireroth's Imperial State of Lichbrook which established Minarboria was the result of four successive phenomena: the secession of Kildare from Shireroth in 468 Anno Fruticis, the unwillingness of the Shirerithian political class to prevent the manipulation of public life by provocateurs from Elwynn and Jingdao, the rise of Kaiser Verion I of Shireroth for whom the situation was a pretext to launch an assault on the autonomy of Shireroth's constituent Imperial States, and finally the decision of that same Kaiser to cancel the Neridian Expedition, a colonial project on the Isle of Istvanistan in which a great amount of Lichbrook's resources had been invested. Interpreting these events as a collective punishment of loyal Imperial States for the actions of the less loyal, the noble houses of Lichbrook found their faith in the entire Shirerithian system irreperably broken. Together with the fallen Yastreb family of Goldshire who had been largely disowned by the Shirekeep elite two Kaisers previously, as well as the Deep Singer casualties of a recent rebellion in Shimmerspring, these disaffected elements coalesced around the undead personage of Lyssansa Rossheim, the Princess of Lywind - previously the sole autocrat of Lichbrook who had now been sidelined in power by her matrilineal elders Anthrazita and Marie Dolores.
Lyssansa's principal minion, one Clarence Etzeterra, had been tasked with leading the Lichbrookian element of the Neridia expedition and now found himself responsible for several thousand colonists and a merchant shipping fleet devoid of purpose. Lyssansa, on hearing of the matter, resolved to put them to use in a new project entirely outside the jurisdiction of the Shirerithian government. She chose as a destination the shore of southwestern Benacia which had fallen to anarchy some generations previously with the collapse of Ashkenatza. Without the support of Shireroth's Kaiser or indeed her familial elders in Lichbrook, Lyssansa knew that the security of the expedition would need to be provided privately. She approached the ancient revenant Mors Nerrolar - head of the House of Mortis, noted soldier of fortune and previously Kaiser of Shireroth - and offered him substantial funds to raise an expeditionary army from his contacts around Lichbrook. This he set about in earnest, attracting in the process the surviving remnant of the House of Yastreb whose undead matriatch, Royana Dolordotch, was willing to follow Mors anywhere in the service of her romantic fixation toward him.
By disturbing telluric currents in the mycelial stratum of Lichbrook, the logistical commotion of this effort attracted the attention of certain Deep Singers in their underground burrows; specifically Fleurette the Thoughtseeker, one of the founding Incarnates of the Garden of Shimmerspring who sought to escape the civil unrest recently plaguing her home and also, to some degree, to get away from her estranged husband. As an Incarnate of the Garden she was accompanied by a loyal coterie of Deep Singer followers whose offer of assistance to Lyssansa's expedition was accepted.
Among Lyssansa's many personal possessions taken west was Minarbor, a sentient shrub who had begun his life as a sucker shoot of Shireroth's cantakerous patron tree god, Malarbor. Unlike his gnarled father, Minarbor was so meek and inoffensive in temperament that Shireroth's Cedrist Temple had briefly considered him their official Demigod of Pastel Colours. His emergence had occurred during a time of nominal Rossheim rule and civil unrest in Shireroth's capital, Shirekeep, allowing Lyssansa to order his separation from Malarbor and his relocation to the safety of her own personal shrubbery. Now as Lyssansa left Shireroth, Minarbor was dug up, placed into a pot and added to her personal wagon train.
By the time he reached the main staging point of the expedition at Twoggle, Minarbor's gentle and affable manner had attracted a devoted following of colonists; not least Fleurette and her Deep Singers who saw, in his verdant countenance, a divine manifestation of their very own Garden. Lyssansa, with typical shrewdness, encouraged the worship of her pet shrub and instructed Fleurette to compile the theological basis for a state church which would unify the liches and the Deep Singers into a single Shrubdom devoted, and indeed named, for Minarbor. Minarbor himself, never being one to voice loud opposition at anything, meekly consented to his relocation and apotheosis - indeed he was seen to express a degree of leaf-twitching excitement at the prospect of seeing new places and meeting new people.
After a stopover at Port Benacia, the expeditionary fleet landed along a series of beachheads between the ruined Ashkenatzan ports of Klymenburg and Gefiltefischhafn; some of these were assaulted by warbands of Yehudi and Laqi who had come to prominence in the post-Ashkenatzan anarchy but, lacking support from competing neighbouring powers that they would more latterly enjoy, they were progressively defeated or assimilated by the well-equipped mercenaries of Mors Nerrolar's expeditionary army. In the more violent western reaches a forward defensive line known as the Lywall was established, running east from Klymenburg (now renamed Klymhigh) until it reached the ruins of Mikrashot some 400 kilometres inland. It was upon a fortified hill adjacent to the latter city that Lyssansa established the seat of her rule, a walled shrubbery at which all the telluric ley lines of her realm would meet at the very personage of Minarbor himself. The ruins of the old city were salvaged for the construction of the new city, known as Sansabury, and it was here that the Kingdom of Minarboria was proclaimed in 800 AF.
Whilst the rulers of Minarboria set about the business of governance, their homesteading subjects advanced deep into the continental interior. North of Sansabury, Fleurette and her Deep Singers established the Garden of Whisperwood, administered in accordance with the customs of their race. To the east, Clarence Etzeterra was granted Marquisial title and established the academic city of &zeter. Between them, the agents of Lyssansa's own household - the feared lichniks - established the Lichgraviate of Novodolor and set about the construction of and industrial base, assisted by a horde of undead 'zombot' automatons. Further still, in the high Octavian Mountains, Lyssansa's friend and ally Lord Toastypops - himself Ashkenatzan by birth - sought to reclaim a modest crag of his old homeland and repurpose the notorious "fleshpots of Mazeltov" (now renamed Toastytop) to the manufacture of toys, lich cookies and other objects conducive to the jollity of the Minarborian population.
By 887 AF the Lichgraviate of Lachmeren had been claimed as a home for the assimilated Laqi population. By this time the Imperial government of Shireroth had begun to succumb to the machinations of the expansionist Froyalanish and sought to occupy the ungoverned corridor of Greater Tellia, establishing a long common border with Eastern Minarboria. The resulting negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Gloomburg, in which the ungoverned majority of Tellia was partitioned into two condominia of joint Shirerithian-Tellian and Minarborian-Tellian administration. Despite the treaty's cordial ratification, Shireroth's ambitions in the region aroused considerable suspicion in Sansabury and Queen Lyssansa designated the portion of land granted entirely to Minarboria by the treaty, between Novodolor and Lachmeren, as the 'Royal Forest of Litel' - in reality this would be one of the first examples of a biomic minefield, cultivated by the Deep Singers as a frontier fortification. It was here that such notorious flora and fauna as the dreadnettle, the shrapnel lily, the sharpshooter primrose and indeed the Tee-al came to prominence.
The Treaty of Gloomburg also granted Minarboria a swathe of territory north of Toastytop; this was granted to Octavia Rossheim, the Minarborian Princess Royal, as the Principality of Highbloom.
Lyssansa's success in carving out her own royal fiefdom had not gone unnoticed by her undead relatives in the House of Rossheim, whose own far-flung possessions across Micras had suffered from a feedback loop of withering talent in their necromantic castes (known as the Deathgivers) and a societal torpor which brought the routine workings of those states to an almost complete halt. Minarboria, in their envious eyes, had plenty of animating energy to share and they began pressuring Lyssansa to bring her realm into political union with theirs. Although she had proudly defied the screeching menace of her grandmother Anthrazita in leaving Lichbrook, Lyssansa found it more difficult to resist the creeping tide of affable suggestion rising from her gentler, more respected relatives. She eventually assented to the idea of a grand union of the Rossheim realms, provoking a storm of protest from senior elements of the Minarborian civil service who feared not only the usurpation of their positions, but the annihilation of the Minarborian national consciousness itself. After much discussion with the chief administrators of the Minarborian government, the State Arborists, a compromise was reached whereby a new imperial union would adopt Minarboria's name and respect its ceremonial primacy in return for a high level of autonomy for the other states. The necessary reforms, enacted in 1016 AF by the Treaty of Sansabury, entailed the following:
- The establishment of a Council of Necrarchs to rule the new empire, led by Lyssansa as Empress;
- The reformation of the territory of the old Kingdom of Minarboria as the Imperial Shrublands, itself divided into the personal Lichnina of Empress Lyssansa comprising the Lichgraviates of Lywall, Lachmeren, Novodolor and Litel, and the Autonomous Jurisdictions of Highbloom, &zeter, Whisperwood, Toastytop and Gloomvale.
- The incorporation of Sangun and Riskai, Treisenberg, Leichenberg, Steeria, Tiěyá and Karalakh into the empire as Lands of the Imperial Crown at the same level of autonomy as the Imperial Shrublands.
This consolidation brought a short period of confusion on Cibola which led to the withdrawal of governance from Eastern Highfield. The area was duly occupied by authorities from the Natopian province of Walstadt until an uprising in the latter's original portion was put down by the Natopian government, who by way of retribution stripped Walstadt of most of its new-found territory and returned half of it to Minarboria in 1088 AF.
By 1100 AF, the headlong expansion of Shireroth into the historical territory of Batavia compelled Empress Lyssansa to order the Jollification of the Kossars, an occupation of the ancient Ashkenatzan heartlands of Volhyria and Porolia including the ruins of its capital, Kolmenitzkiy. This was accomplished in stages by the Karymov Host, a brigade-sized formation of undead Laqi cossacks whose numbers were soon swelled by their proficiency in securing and distributing the wealth of the Minarborian state to buy the collaboration of local kossar warlords whose vastly superior numbers would have been impossible to subdue by force alone. Upon reaching Kolmenitzkiy, now slightly renamed to Nackolom, the leader of the Karymov Host - one Zemphirius Maksystrelovich Karymov - reinvented himelf as a wise Shophet whom surviving descendants of the region's Ashkenatzan clergy recognised as an authority figure to be flattered, if not entirely respected; the application of his amateurish pilpul against their imperfectly-remembered meforshim, however, soon created an obscurantist miasma in the finest traditions of the Tribe of Jacob and assured the clerics' societal leverage into the respected Kohanim that they became. The authority of Karymov, as their enabler, became progressively more secure.
At around this time, the lands between Whisperwood and the jollified kossar territories were settled by the last Deep Singers to have remained in Shireroth; their flight from the latter nation, compelled by the Underkeep massacre in Shirekeep, was popularly called the Second Great Replanting. Some measure of social friction arose between the newly-arrived Singers and those who had arrived during Minarboria's first years, often exacerbated by unresolved political quarrels from the Old Garden, but the new settlers nonetheless established a stable population around Lepidopterum.
Torpor and Revolution
For all of its majesty, the House of Rossheim was long known to be afflicted by a 'royal disease' of sensitivity to natural disruptions in the necro-telluric field which animated their undead kind. Throughout Minarboria's early history the periodic tendency of Lyssansa to slump face-down into her lichcookies, and remain unresponsive in that pose for months at a time, was covered up by her embarrassed household staff and the bureaucrats of the Imperial Shrubbery who administered the empire on the basis of her previous policy guidance until she was revived enough to issue more.
As the Empire grew and more worthy breathers among the citizenry were transmuted into liches by the Deathgivers, the strain on the animating ley lines of lichdom became progressively more severe and Empress Lyssansa's spells of helpless inanimation became longer until, in 1175 AF, she was found lying motionless in a flowerbed of her palace courtyard, some ten metres from a visibly frightened Minarbor who issued the hesitant proclamation that "she can sleep in the flowers... if she wants to?" In Lyssansa's hand was an order, written shakily in a faltering hand, for her to be placed in the tomb of her deceased breather siblings in distant Sangun - possibly in the vain hope of leeching their decompositional energy for reanimation, although no reason was given. While palace officials hurried to carry out this last request, Viscount Shyriath Farstrider, the Regent Interdum of the Empire and its most senior 'breather', assumed control of the government.
The fright of Minarbor, being the point at which all arcane ley lines in Minarboria met, caused a cascade of collapsed liches across the Empire and even began to create health problems among the more intricately-modified Deep Singers, whose own biomantic workings drew upon Minarbor as a focal point. The greatest effect was felt by the 'zombot' automatons, the corpses of penitents and destitutes reanimated to a state of low cognitive function for the performance of menial tasks. The Minarborian economy, being wholly reliant upon these beings, now began sliding into a headlong collapse as entire workforces keeled over and expired.
Under the intense strain of the situation, Regent Farstrider - long possessed of a weakness for Tellian liqueurs - elected to head off an ensuing nervous breakdown by binge-drinking amaretto to sooth his nerves and help him sleep in the few moments of free time he had. His liver held out until 1227 AF when he was taken gravely ill and moved to his country estate by his physicians in a condition of delirious insensibility. Order quickly began to break down across the empire, culminating in a series of events known as the Harvestfall Revolution whereby a movement of student liches took over the university city of &zeter and demanded reform of the failed state before they all expired. The uprising was opposed by the old mercenary Mors Nerrolar who, fighting the twin attritions of energetic torpor and enemy action among the undead soldiers he could gather up, was able to besiege the city but not retake it. The stalemate was eventually broken by Fleurette the Thoughtseeker, head of the Minarborian state church, who revealed to the rebels that Minarbor himself was upset by their antics - although the rebels' loyalty to the state had been shaken, their piety was intact and the shameful revelation of Minarbor's discomfort provoked their immediate and unconditional surrender.
By this time, Regent Farstrider's senses had recovered to some state of coherence and upon hearing of the &zeter rebels' grievances, he returned to Sansabury in 1305 AF and conspired with the Saohuang Queen of Tiěyá - the only member of the Council of Necrarchs still functional - to reform the Imperial Root Law independently of the absent empress and restore the Minarborian government to a limited period of function.
The reformed government, however, still required a functional regent in the place of the absent empress and although Shyriath Farstrider served adequately in this capacity for a time, the carelessly euphoric experience of his previous alcoholism and the continuing collapse of lich society set the stage for a relapse; before long he was once again committed to his mansion in eastern Lywall where he spent his days bouncing off the walls, slipping over in pools of his own vomit and generally succumbing to a life of tragic indignity.
In Sansabury the only remaining imperial authority figure was Fleurette the Thoughtseeker, head of the Church of Minarbor who might have salvaged the empire with the renewed call of the Garden had she not resorted to destructive coping strategies of her own; her downfall was the basement dancefloor of the élite Ouroboros Club in Sansabury, where her innocent swaying to slow disco numbers triggered the same powerful ancestral instinct which had, it was said, compelled many of her Deep Singer ancestors to offer themselves in sacrifice to the Garden by literally dancing themselves to death. What began as gentle stress relief progressed, over a succession of weeks, toward frenetic expressions of outright degeneracy without pause for sustenance or even the performance of bodily functions. Fleurette was last seen near the Ouroboros Club shortly after the power supply in Sansabury had failed for the last time, emaciated and soiled with her once-brilliant liturgical robes in tatters, dancing along the half-deserted streets to tunes created entirely within her own mind.
The fate of Minarbor himself during this time is unconfirmed and subject to much debate and speculation - his last confirmed sighting was being spirited out of the Sansabury Shrubbery by robed clerics the state church as civil order broke down in the city. In lieu of anything more than vague rumour and circular theological speculation about his ultimate fate, popular consensus around his old domains has defaulted to a semi-fictional theory promoted by the Kalgachi film industry which posits his physical dematerialisation into a 'Special Garden' expedited by an undead child, a mendicant cleric and a host of pursuing cossacks, leaving nought but a parting salvo of miracles in his wake.
Faced with such eschatological conditions, the last remnants of government evacuated the Minarborian capital in 1418 AF, the majority fleeing north to the Octavian mountains where they would eventually establish the Garden of Kalgachia.
The collapse of Minarboria, occurring simultaneously with that of Alexandria, saw one of the greatest episodes of civil collapse and opportunistic land-grabbing in Micran history. For significant parts of the world these events marked the beginning of a new and terrible dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
From her palace at the heart of Sansabury's Shrubbery, Empress Lyssansa ruled the Empire alongside the Council of Necrarchs, whose decrees were implemented through a troika of organs known as the State Arbors which were ranked in order of importance. The First State Arbor was the executive branch, concerned with the implementation of the Council's decrees and the co-ordination of the Shrubbery as a whole.
The Second State Arbor handled Minarboria's internal affairs such as immigration, policing, state security, national resources and industry, customs, and various other minutiae of domestic life.
The Third State Arbor, located on the edge of the Shrubbery a safe distance from the Empress' palace, dealt with affairs outside Minarboria's borders. Here foreign diplomats were received and Minarborian diplomats were directed.
Defence of the Empire was conducted by a grouping of assorted local regiments which were generally mobile in character; ranging from heavy cavalry riding giant Jackalope-like beasts to mechanised assault troops weighed down with armour plate and high-calibre weaponry, plus light formations of undead cossacks for reconnaissance and harrassment raids. In the Benacian territories, air defence regiments existed to protect the fighting formations and civil population from aerial attack. The Minarborian navy was entirely composed of submersible vessels fuelled by sea plankton.
The most venerated entity in Minarboria was Minarbor himself; a modestly-sized sentient shrub located at the very heart of the Shrubbery, in the courtyard of the Empress's palace. Originally a sucker shoot of the Shirerithian tree-god Malarbor, the mild-mannered Minarbor was considered Shrub-God before all by his followers, who named their very nation after him. He was protected from the tumults of world by Empress Lyssansa, to whom he was legally married.
Minarbor's virtues were promoted by the Church of Minarbor - an organisation run exclusively by the Deep Singers, who adopted Minarbor as the manifest essence of their pre-existing model of the world known as the Garden. The Church had a presence of effectively theocratic proportions in the government of the Imperial Shrublands, a decently-sized business portfolio and a wide, pious congregation among the ordinary population.
The Church liaised and occasionally bickered with the Faculty of the Arcane of the University of &zeter, which examined and refined the "supernatural" elements required to maintain a population of undead or perpetually living individuals. The Faculty was of a heavily Promethean, Luciferian and generally Gnostic theme; an inevitable reaction against the millennia of magical suppression committed by the Technomaezji of Shireroth. The Faculty's methods were informed by many Benacian esoteric traditions such as Goldshirian Alchemy, Lichbrookian Necromancy and Ashkenatzan Qabbalah. The faculty would go on to form the nucleus of the Troglodyti in Kalgachia.
The gentle, permissive and unthreatening nature of Minarbor, besides being harmonious with the arcane notions of human agency descibed above, stand jarringly at odds with the pomposity and gratuitous slaughter that characterise the greater part of Micras' civilisational history; this is thought to be the source of his continued popularity.
At the Empire's height, the population of Minarboria was arranged into four clusters determined by continental location; the Shrublanders on Benacia, the Leichenbergers on Cibola, The Sangunese off Northern Corum and the Nidarosians in Riskai. Of these the Shrublanders were the largest and most prominent group; containing among them Overdolorish and Lywinders, Goldshirians, Laqis and Ashkenatzim. An enormous swathe of Minarboria's population were not mortal humans as commonly understood, but had either become undead or, in the case of the Deep SIngers, anatomically enhanced. This resulted in a mild form of caste system whereby the former tended to occupy the most senior positions of government and the latter controlled the Church of Minarbor, although this was by no means an absolute. Sufficiently competent individuals of all forms (including Breathers) were capable of getting ahead in Minarborian society, thanks to the church's teaching that unjustified snobbery was contrary to the virtues of the Garden.
An Index of Minarborian Terms
Minarboria generated a great amount of technical and colloquial language during its history, some of which remains in use today. An index of it can be found here.
- ^ This feat would later be repeated during the foundation of Kalgachia.
- ^ For all of its ugliness, the prevailing clerical opinion among the Ketherists is that this act of ritual sacrifice, being followed by the continuity of Shrubdom in Kalgachia, actually worked. The event imparted the disco genre with such eschatological associations that it is regarded as taboo in the Kalgachi music scene to this day, restricted almost solely to church-supervised passion plays depicting the original event.